Scott Dixon Long Beach, CA - during the INDYCAR Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach in Long Beach, California. (Photo by Travis Hinkle | IMS Photo)

IndyCar News: Dixon saves fuel and still wins GP of Long Beach

Veteran Scott Dixon showed how it is done – saving fuel and holding off four drivers to with the 49th Acura GP of Long Beach NTT IndyCar race.

Dixon held off Andretti Honda driver Colton Herta by 0.9798 in his #9 Ganassi Honda.

Dixon’s teammate Alex Palou came home third to give Honda a 1-2-3 sweep of the podium.

Josef Newgarden (Penske Chevy) and Marcus Ericsson (Andretti Honda) rounded out the top-5.

Scott Dixon leads

The 27-car field splintered into two groups of differing strategies on Lap 15 when the only caution period of the race was triggered by Christian Rasmussen’s spin and wall contact in Turn 4 in the No. 20 GuyCare Chevrolet fielded by Ed Carpenter Racing.

Then race leader Will Power and Dixon led a group of drivers that dove into the pits during that caution, with Kyle Kirkwood, Marcus Armstrong, Graham Rahal and Linus Lundqvist among the other leading lights adopting that tactic.

That strategy play handed the lead to Newgarden on Lap 17, and he kept the top spot when green-flag racing resumed on Lap 19.

Josef Newgarden around the Fountain

For the next 45 laps, the early-stopping drivers used every tactic in their bag of skills to save fuel, lifting the throttle early in corners and babying it on acceleration. Every engineer’s calculation on the pit wall showed the margin to make it to the finish on just one more stop would be razor-thin without another caution period.

Meanwhile, the rest of the contenders entered the pits between Laps 30 and 33 for their first stops, with Herta going the longest to Lap 33. The fuel-sipping group then pitted for the final time on Laps 52-53.

Colton Herta put it to Newgarden in the hairpin

The differing strategies then exploded into a crescendo of drama after the second group pitted for the final time between Laps 58-62.

Newgarden emerged in second, about three seconds behind Dixon, after every contender finished their final stops. Newgarden’s tires were seven laps fresher than Dixon’s, and he didn’t have to worry about saving fuel.

Nearly everyone in the sold-out reserved seat grandstands figured it would only be a matter of time before Newgarden passed Dixon for the lead and perhaps an unbeaten start to the season, as he won the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding on March 10.

Everyone but Dixon, that is.

Dixon masterfully balanced saving fuel with short bursts of push-to-pass to parry Newgarden over the closing laps. Still, Newgarden drove to within a half-second of Dixon on Lap 71 and appeared to be biding his time.

Newgarden then pulled close to Dixon’s gearbox entering the hairpin leading to the long front straightaway on Shoreline Drive on Lap 77 and appeared to be setting him up for a passing attempt on the straight. But that never happened, as Herta nudged Newgarden from behind entering the hairpin. The impact lifted Newgarden’s rear wheels off the ground and engaged his anti-stall function, letting Herta and Palou pass him and dropping him to fourth.

“It seemed pretty obvious,” Newgarden said. “He just misjudged it and ran into me.

“I’m not saying we were going to get Dixon. It was very, very difficult for me to get the run I needed to. I think traffic was going to provide me an opportunity, so that run right there, I was really excited about it. I think that was going to be my last chance. Never know if I would have pulled it off or not.”

Said Herta: “I think he (Newgarden) set up pretty wide and was cutting back in and was a little slower at apex, but ultimately, it’s up to me to carry the right speed into the corner and not run into the back of people, and I just misjudged it.”

That incident gave Dixon breathing room from behind as he navigated lapped traffic ahead. Herta pulled to within .328 of a second with three laps remaining, but Dixon was given clearance on the last lap to use all the fuel-gulping push-to-pass he had left and pulled away for the win.

Race Start Turn 1

It was yet another chapter in Dixon’s saga of pulling victory from nowhere with fuel saving and pit wall strategy. Just last season, he earned unlikely wins on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and World Wide Technology Raceway in August with similar tactics.

“It was way up there,” Dixon said when asked where this win ranked among his strategic victories. “The stress level was high. Those guys were coming fast and strong. I think we were off by a lap or two of making it easy. Other fuel races I’ve done I’ve had it under control for the full stint.”

Reigning FIA Formula 2 champion Theo Pourchaire finished 11th in his NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut in the No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, the top rookie in the race. Frenchman Pourchaire is substituting for David Malukas, continuing to recover from surgery to repair left wrist injuries suffered in a preseason mountain biking accident.

Acura GP of Long Beach Results

Pos No Name Laps Behind Gap Led ST Engine Points Team
1 9 Scott Dixon 85 0.000s 0.000s 42 8 Honda 75 Chip Ganassi Racing
2 26 Colton Herta 85 0.9798 0.9798 7 4 Honda 72 Andretti Autosport w/Curb Agajanian
3 10 Alex Palou 85 1.7664 0.7866 0 6 Honda 63 Chip Ganassi Racing
4 2 Josef Newgarden 85 3.9735 2.2071 19 3 Chevy 87 Team Penske
5 28 Marcus Ericsson 85 4.3769 0.4034 0 5 Honda 35 Andretti Autosport
6 12 Will Power 85 15.7639 11.3870 15 2 Chevy 61 Team Penske
7 27 Kyle Kirkwood 85 16.1788 0.4149 1 10 Honda 45 Andretti Autosport
8 77 Romain Grosjean 85 18.0433 1.8645 0 16 Chevy 30 Juncos Hollinger Racing
9 60 Felix Rosenqvist 85 18.8155 0.7722 1 1 Honda 50 Meyer Shank Racing
10 7 Alexander Rossi 85 32.0915 13.2760 0 13 Chevy 44 Arrow McLaren
11 6 Theo Pourchaire 85 33.4409 1.3494 0 22 Chevy 19 Arrow McLaren
12 11 Marcus Armstrong 85 40.8207 7.3798 0 9 Honda 23 Chip Ganassi Racing
13 8 Linus Lundqvist 85 42.0003 1.1796 0 17 Honda 24 Chip Ganassi Racing
14 21 Rinus VeeKay 85 44.4325 2.4322 0 18 Chevy 36 Ed Carpenter Racing
15 78 Agustin Canapino 85 51.3156 6.8831 0 20 Chevy 27 Juncos Hollinger Racing
16 5 Pato O’Ward 85 52.9961 1.6805 0 14 Chevy 54 Arrow McLaren
17 15 Graham Rahal 85 62.5190 9.5229 0 12 Honda 27 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
18 41 Sting Ray Robb 85 65.5898 3.0708 0 25 Chevy 17 AJ Foyt Enterprises
19 4 Kyffin Simpson 84 1 LAPS 7.1215 0 26 Honda 27 Chip Ganassi Racing
20 51 Nolan Siegel 84 1 LAPS 3.3004 0 27 Honda 10 Dale Coyne Racing
21 14 Santino Ferrucci 84 1 LAPS 2.5931 0 24 Chevy 28 AJ Foyt Enterprises
22 66 Tom Blomqvist 84 1 LAPS 16.3521 0 15 Honda 21 Meyer Shank Racing
23 45 Christian Lundgaard 84 1 LAPS 5.4766 0 7 Honda 18 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
24 30 Pietro Fittipaldi 84 1 LAPS 18.5404 0 19 Honda 21 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
25 18 Jack Harvey 83 2 LAPS 47.7225 0 23 Honda 16 Dale Coyne Racing
26 3 Scott McLaughlin 71 In Pit 1.6035 0 11 Chevy 40 Team Penske
27 20 Christian Rasmussen 14 Contact 1.0360 0 21 Chevy 14 Ed Carpenter Racing
Social Media Auto Publish Powered By :